Why a Homeless Shelter Feels Safer than a Cocktail Party

Yesterday, I began praying about Advent.  Why?  Because I was hopping on my very first webcast with Amen Paper Company and had been asked to answer the question, “How are you planning to let Advent be a worshipful holiday?”  I realized when posed the question by my business partner (and friend) that I really had no answer, no plan, no brilliant answer as to how to have a worshipful holiday. Being intentional through super busy seasons doesn’t come very natural to me and more often than not, I have pushed through Advent seasons with sincere desires of drawing close to Christ, but rarely have held an intentional plan to hold myself accountable to that.

At the beginning of December, my mind usually begins spinning with all the crafty things I could do with my children, the homemade gifts we could make,  and the people we could bless.  By December 24th, I am usually just thankful to still be alive after attempting to execute all of my creative ideas that I am hoping will make us all feel like we are in a Hollywood Christmas story.

So yesterday, I asked myself the question, “How am I planning on having a worshipful holiday?”  The ideas immediately started spinning, and I began thinking of all the original paintings I would do for my nieces and nephews, and brothers and sisters, and before I knew it, I was already exhausted and the season hadn’t even begun. In the midst of my creative wheels spinning, God told me to pause, and He took me back to a season in which I was spending time in a homeless shelter teaching art to the broken and hurting.

I loved my work in the homeless shelter and although it often carried me far out of my comfort zone, eventually it was a place that began to feel like home to me.  During that season, after coming home from a holiday party, feeling somewhat lonely and empty, I asked God why I felt more at home in a homeless shelter than at a cocktail party? 

And this is what He revealed me...  When I walk into the homeless shelter, I only have one expectation of the people I encounter and that is for them to be broken and hurting and in need of love. They can ignore me, snub me, monopolize the conversation, look over my shoulder when i am talking, invade my personal space, and it doesn’t shock me or stop me from loving them because I have given them permission to be broken.

Being somewhat of an introvert, when I walk into a holiday  party, I am more focused on whether or not I am going to enjoy myself than on loving the broken so it's no wonder I walk away from the homeless shelter feeling full and the holiday party feeling empty.  

So this Advent season, I am asking him to fill me with grace, to help me carry the same state of mind that I have taken into the homeless shelter into my daily life, even into the holiday cocktail party. The truth is, all of us are somewhat broken and hurting and the people at the holiday parties need permission to be broken just as much as the homeless man.  

At the present time, I feel Christ calling for unity in the body above all else so I feel that the most worshipful thing I can do this Advent season is give people that permission to be broken.   One way I plan to grow in the area of giving people grace this year is to gather with women, read the Amen Paper Advent devotional and give women a safe place to share their heart.  One of the reasons I believe so deeply in our Advent products is that they are written by women all over the country, sharing their hearts in a deep and personal way.  And they have written it in a way that is not a “how to do it better” book but a book centered on the grace of God giving women permission to be broken and imperfect. 

This Advent season, lets join hands with other women, give each other permission to be broken, and center our hearts on Christ!  Because in the end, we are really all the homeless man looking for a place that feels like home.  Amen?